In her own words...
Carlo McCormick: What effect would you say the passing years have had on your perceptions of the human form in terms of its frailty? You’ve always seemed to have a sense of mortality.
None, really. You don’t have to be old and wise to be aware of our dilemma. The shadow of mortality, well, I’ve always had it for a sort of companion. But I’m glad you ask the question, because my work is generally perceived as erotic, period. You see, when I paint drifting nudes, it’s a statement about being human. Some people think it’s a statement about being sexy. It’s an obsession of the whole, not so cultural, establishment, that almost everything we do which is inexplicable must be reduced to sexuality, and that’s absurd. It’s certainly very strong—I would never say it wasn’t—but, after all, there are other yearnings, with names like glory, incandescence, and love and knowledge. I like to think that you feel some of this when you look at my pictures.
–from interview with Carlo McCormick, "Dorothea Tanning," BOMB 33, (Fall 1990), p. 37.